Life is all about ying-ing and yang-ing; trying to find equilibrium and balance to our days. When we do something that creates a positive influence or effect on our life, it almost seems as though something must come along (self-sabotage) to create the status quo and throw things back into motion in a more negative direction.
Making changes in our lives is hard. We do things a certain way and often profess we would like things to be different. But making the change – especially in our ways of thinking – is harder than just accepting what is. I often remind myself not to complain about something unless I am ready to step-up and make changes. Complaining is so much easier.
Acceptance of those changes is also hard because then we need to see ourselves differently. Sometimes you don’t just make changes, you find yourself.
Two weeks ago I mentioned that we ran our hardest (hilliest) and longest run. I had a friend run a race on trails that weekend which was up a mountain (she was first female again … so inspiring!) and made our elevation gain look abysmally small. But the elevation we did cover was over 20 times the gain that we will face on race day.
So the perspective in the route differences, along with finishing strong and close to our projected race pace, left me elated and excited for more after our run. The feeling lasted for almost a day and a half. But now, I am wondering what else I can do to get ready for the race, even questioning if I have trained enough!
When we challenge ourselves and prove to ourselves what we are made of, it brings up the emotions and doubts of the past. We use the success as a new measure and wonder if we will ever achieve it again or be able to sustain that confidence. We’ve already proven that it is within us; the challenge is to build on that emotional state and not be drawn backwards into negative doubts or past comparisons.
1. Train hard, race easy. Our training leading up to this race has been just as challenging as the lead-up to prior races, perhaps even more so. The difference for me is that I felt more committed and pushed myself much more in each workout. If there was someone ahead of me to catch on the hills or around the track I certainly tried to do so. I rarely succeeded, but the effort I was putting in was hard. Come race day, I know that all this effort will be within me. I can enjoy the race with my strong fitness, and ‘race easy.’
2. Know that you are doing all you can, in this moment. I often fall victim to comparing myself to others and feel inadequate because of it. A good way to break out of this is to know that I am doing what I can, what my body will allow, in this moment. Whether I’m running solo, in a group run, or on race day, I am doing what I can in this moment.
This does not mean it’s a maximum effort each time, but I am exerting all my effort to achieve the goals I set for the short-term. This also includes runs to just relax and enjoy the time on my feet.
3. Balance expectations with effort. There are times when we will feel off, or unmotivated, or just lacking the well of strength to draw upon. Some days are just not as high energy as others. When we are feeling like this, we can assess our expectations and match them with our level of effort. Anything can happen on race day, and having only a single time or goal result in mind can easily be derailed by a simple blister or dehydration. Being realistic will help keep the pressure off and allow more energy for having fun.
Acknowledging that you are doing well is more difficult than it seems. There is always someone better or faster than you are or a personal goal still not quite achieved. However you see it, realize that where you are now is a success. Compare this to all the past frustrations and marvel at how far you have come.
It took a lot of work to get here, it will not simply be undone. Nor will you be the same as you were in the past, knowing what now lies within you.